US NAVY – ‘Tic Tac’ – USS Nimitz Incident
Instantaneous Acceleration Positive Lift
The story of the Tic Tac begins around November 10, 2004, during a training exercise involving the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group which included multiple US Navy ships.
The incident begins when USS Princeton’s radar operator Kevin Day first reports seeing odd and slow-moving objects flying in groups of five to ten off of San Clemente Island, west of the San Diego coast. At an elevation of 28,000 feet, moving at a speed of approximately 120 knots (about 138 miles per hour), the clusters were too high to be birds, too slow to be conventional aircraft, and were not traveling on any established flight path, at least according to Day.
Another crew member with 17 years of experience on similar cruisers later observes that the objects “exhibit ballistic-missile characteristics” as they zoom from 60,000 feet to 50 feet above the Pacific Ocean, alarmingly without producing sonic booms. Radar operators with the Princeton spend about two weeks attempting to figure out what the objects are, a process that includes having the ship’s radar system shut down and recalibrated to make sure that the mysterious radar returns were not not false positives, or “ghost tracks.”
Eventually, David Fravor, commanding officer of the Black Aces, along with 3 other pilots, make visual confirmation of one of the objects midair during a flight-training exercise. An hour later, after the pilots return to the carrier, Commander Chad Underwood takes off from the Nimitz and is able to film the object with his F/A-18 Forward-looking infrared camera.
All Known Witnesses & Timeline
Hundreds of crew members were aboard the Princeton and the Nimitz, however all known witnesses that have come forward are listed:
Around November 1st, 2004
- Cryptologic Technician Karsom Kamerzell (watch interview)
He was aboard the USS Princeton, after an occasionally visit to the officers in the radar room, he sees them puzzled about an unidentified object on the radar, an uncategorized vector that appears randomly on different parts of the screen.
Around November 10 – 13, 2004
- Senior Chief Petty Officer Kevin Day (watch interview)
Air Controller aboard the USS Princeton. During these dates, he kept seeing unidentified objects on the radar, proceeding slowly from north to south along the training area.The object(s) appear around Santa Catalina Island, proceed south and disappear around Guadalupe Island.
- Petty Officer Gary Voorhis (watch interview)
Part of the AEGIS operator team – on board of the USS Princeton. Fearing the ship’s brand new AN/SPY-1B passive radar system was malfunctioning, Voorhis says the air control systems were taken down and recalibrated in an effort to clear out what was assumed to be false radar returns. However, the tracks reappear and they are even more well-defined. Day and Voorhis on occasions go to the bridge to see the object(s) through binoculars when on the radar they appear close enough to be seen. The fact that they appear and disappear around the maximum altitude detectable by the radars suggests that they actually come from space and go back into space
November 13, 2004
- Chief Master-at-Arms Sean Cahill
Cahill was stationed on board the missile cruiser USS Princeton. In the night of November 13, he sees in the sky what seems a constellation of 5-7 stars, which then all move in a spiral to join at the centre.
November 14, 2004
- Squadron Commanding Officer Douglas Kurth
Kurth is sent by Kevin Day to the coordinates where one of the objects seems to be located. Kurth reaches the area indicated by Day, he sees nothing except a large disturbance in the water. He doesn’t check further because Day tells him he’s sending two other jets (David Fravor with co-pilot, and Jim Slaight with co-pilot Alex Dietrich) with more fuel, so that Kurth can leave.
- Commander David Fravor (watch interview)
Cdr. Fravor was the Commanding Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 41. Kevin Day sees on the radar that as soon as the two jets arrive at the coordinates, the object descends from 8.5 km a.s.l. to sea level in less than a second. The two jets see nothing at their altitude, so they look down, and they notice a disturbance in the water with the size of a 737. They notice a white, tictac-shaped looking object, hovering with abrupt movements over the disturbance, “like a ping-pong ball bouncing” inside a glass box, along north-south and east-west axes. The distance between jets and object is still about 6 km. Fravor tries to get closer, leaving the other jet higher up to have a double perspective of the events. As Fravor goes down following a curve, the tictac points towards him and starts going up mirroring Fravor’s movement. Fravor tries to cut the circle to meet the tictac halfway. He manages to get as close as 800 m, at which point the tictac accelerates at hypersonic speed disappearing from the view of the two jets in less than a second. The whole encounter lasts about 5 minutes. The jets go back to check the disturbance in the water, but that’s also gone. After about 10 seconds, Day contacts the two jets to say that the object has just appeared on the radar 90 km away, at the coordinates where a training exercise was supposed to take place (CAP point). The two jets go back to USS Nimitz.
- Lt. Commander Alex Dietrich (watch interview)
F/A-18F Super Hornet co-pilot deployed alongside Fravor and Jim Slaight. One of the primary witnesses of the ‘Tic Tac’, her fighter jet maintained altitude and watched from above as David Fravor continued to descend towards the tic-tac object.
- Lieutenant Commander Jim Slaight
Jim Slaight with co-pilot Alex Dietrich spotted the ‘Tic Tac’ object from above, which was estimated to be about 40 feet (12 m) long.
- Petty Officer Patrick Hughes (watch interview)
Avionics technician on board of the USS Nimitz at the time. Shortly after the incident, Hawkeye pilots (which is a plane with a large radar dish that relays data to the squadron) are visibly shaken by the experience and menton to him that they saw a tictac-shaped craft, it appeared out of nowhere just next to their plane, for 5-10 seconds, and then it disappeared.
- Lt. Commander Chad Underwood (watch interview)
Navy Weapon Systems Officer from VFA-41. As Fravor lands on the Nimitz, he meets one of his pilots, Chad Underwood, who’s going to take off. Fravor tells him about the encounter, and suggests to be on the lookout and bring a FLIR (a camera attached to the wing). While flying and hoping to have a similar encounter, Underwood is given some coordinates by Kevin Day, as it happened with Fravor. Underwood has problems locking on the object located at the coordinates, which is 30km far (his jet has multiple sensors, radar, FLIR etc, some can lock it, some can’t). Eventually he manages to get a lock with the FLIR and he takes a video. Then he loses the lock, he gives up, but he brings the now-famous video back to the Nimitz.
- Petty Officer Jason Turner (watch interview)
Petty Officer 3rd class on board of the USS Princeton at the time of the incident. He remembers seeing the video live while on the USS Princeton. The video eventually also disappears from the carriers’ internal channels, but (probably) someone manages to make a low-resolution copy of it and send it to himself by email.
- Leading Petty Officer Ryan Weigelt (watch interview)
Helicopter maintenance training instructor on board of the USS Princeton at the time of the incident. He also remembers seeing the FLIR video live. There are different opinions about the video’s length, some people say it was originally about 10 minutes long, some people say the 1-minute version that was later made public is the original version, although at a lower resolution.
November 30, 2004
- Omar Lara (watch interview)
Flight Decker in Air Ops on Nimitz, working in the fuel department. During the night from the Nimitz bridge, he sees a glowing object, larger than a shooting star, in the distance (few kilometres). In a second it falls vertically from the sky down to a few metres above sea level, it stops on a dime and stands for a second, then moves right at a 90° angle (basically the movement is L-shaped) covering in a split second more or less the line of the horizon that can be seen from the front of the bridge, in another split second it makes a 45° angle turn (in relation to the movement along the horizon) towards the Nimitz, and it heads at 45° (in relation to the sea surface) towards space, where it disappears.
Sighting date: Nov. 14th, 2014
Sighting location: Off the coast of southern California
Number of known witnesses: 13 known